Hello! I’m the old man who refused to take the right of way while riding a bicycle even though you stopped and motioned me on. Yes, I realize you were just trying to be nice and helpful. Do you realize that by stopping, you interrupted the flow of traffic on a through street, stopping the traffic behind you? Do you realize that you can get a ticket for unnecessary stopping and holding up traffic? Do you realize that if I had complied with your telling me to cross in front of you, and someone came up beside you and hit me, that the person who would be held responsible would be you?
By law, bicyclists must follow the rules of the road. How can you tell if the bicyclist has to follow the rules for vehicles or if he must follow the rules for pedestrians? It is very simple. If the bicyclist is sitting on the bicycle, whether moving or stopped, the person must follow the rules for vehicles; if the bicyclist is off the bicycle and walking beside the bicycle, the person is a pedestrian.
If you wish to read these laws yourself, Google Idaho Statute 49-720, or check out the Driver’s License Manual regarding bicycles.
I have been a driver’s license examiner since 1967; first in Washington, and now for the past 19 years in Idaho. During all that time, I have never witnessed the disregard for the rules of the road like I have in Sandpoint. It seems to get worse as time goes on.
We may not necessarily agree with all the rules, but they are there for a reason, and that reason is to keep all of us safe. Just imagine driving through Sandpoint, seeing bicyclists stop as required, seeing pedestrians crossing at crosswalks and seeing drivers turn into proper lanes, stopping at stop signs, etc. Imagine law enforcement doing the same thing and also issuing citations to those individuals who do not follow the rules of the road. Imagine how much safer we would all be.
And that is why I will not take the right of way when it is not mine to take.
Thanks for your informative letter. As an avid bicyclist, I find myself in this same situation also. Next week, we will be featuring a “user’s guide” for people confused about the new traffic configuration in Sandpoint. As part of this article, we’ll also go over some bicycling “rules of the road.” Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
-Ben Olson, publisher